The Redwood Area Hospital in Redwood Falls has been designated as an acute stroke ready hospital for another three-year term. The designation recognizes the hospital’s preparedness to evaluate, stabilize and provide emergency treatment to patients with acute stroke symptoms.

In 2013, the Minnesota legislature authorized the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) to designate hospitals in Minnesota as “stroke hospitals.” The designations from lowest to highest level of stroke care are acute stroke ready hospitals, primary stroke centers and comprehensive stroke centers. 

The Redwood Area Hospital has been treating stroke patients through its telestroke program for more than a decade.

The telestroke program partners with North Memorial Health, a comprehensive stroke center, in Robbinsdale.

The program uses a high-end audio/visual computer conferencing system via a secure line to allow neurologists from North Memorial Health to examine, diagnose and treat patients at the Redwood Area Hospital who have possibly suffered a stroke.

“By treating patients within three hours of when their symptoms started, we can offer them the greatest possibility of minimizing disability and maximizing recovery,” said Marley Braun, Redwood Area Hospital telestroke coordinator.

Nearly one in three Minnesota stroke victims first receives care at a small, rural hospital. In addition, more than one-third of Minnesotans live more than 60 minutes away from a primary stroke center.

These facts highlight the importance of local hospitals becoming designated as stroke-ready facilities.

“When it comes to stroke, time lost is brain lost,” said Dr. Ed Ehlinger, Minnesota commissioner of health. “That is why it is so crucial that all Minnesota hospitals are ready to deliver high-quality stroke care close to home.”

“When the emergency department receives a ‘code stroke’ call, we work quickly with North Memorial to diagnose and treat strokes within one hour of arrival at the ER,” said Braun. It is important for Minnesotans to know how to spot a stroke quickly and call 911.

One can recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke by remembering the acronym FAST:

• F – Facial droop/numbness,

• A – Arm weakness

• S – Speech difficulty

• T –Time to call 911